Vladimir Putin signs treaties annexing Ukrainian regions
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In a spine-chilling video, Vladimir Putin is joined by the four leaders of the illegally annexed Ukrainian territories, linking hands and joining chants of “Russia! Russia!” with the clapping audience. The four unrecognised leaders – Denis Pushilin, Leonid Pasechnik, Yevgeny Balitsky and Vladimir Saldo – smile triumphant with two of them raising their fists in a sign of victory. The Russian leader then proceeds to lead the Kremlin audience in a chant, shouting: “Russia!”
The four leaders of the illegally annexed Ukrainian regions follow Putin’s lead and sing with the Russian leader in a chilling moment.
Alec Luhn, the former Guardian journalist who shared the video, said: “Putin leads the hall in an extremely awkward “Ru-ssi-a!” chant.”
With the chant, Vladimir Putin concluded the illegal annexation of four occupied regions of Ukraine at the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow.
Putin had just signed into law the “accession treaties” formalising Russia’s take-over of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
In a day of celebration for the Kremlin, Putin kicked off the ceremony with an angry speech in which the Russian president issued veiled nuclear threats, promising to protect the newly annexed lands “with all the forces and means at our disposal.”
“The people have made their choice. An unequivocal choice … This is the will of millions of people,” Putin said, adding that the citizens of the four occupied regions would be part of Russia “forever”.
This is the first time a Russian leader conquers territories where Russian troops are retreating.
Putin later joined a celebratory concert at Red Square in Moscow, declaring victory on the battlefield.
Putin told Russians: “We have become stronger because we are together. With us is the truth, and indeed, the power! And that means victory! Victory will be ours!”
Peddling Kremlin propaganda, Putin said Ukrainian citizens are liberated from their neo-nazi regime and finally allowed to return to the “motherland.”
“For decades, they tried to eradicate the historical consciousness of these people, to destroy their traditions, to forbid them to speak in their native language, to forbid their culture. Nothing worked,” he said.
“And that’s why we say Russia not only opens the doors of our native home for our brothers and sisters, it opens its heart to them. Welcome home!” Putin said to the cheering crowd.
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World leaders swiftly condemned the illegal annexation of the four Ukrainian regions, which they said won’t be recognised in international law.
In a direct address to Putin, US President Joe Biden said America alongside NATO allies “are prepared to defend every single inch of NATO terriroty – every single inch.”
French President Emmanuel Macron described Putin’s “illegal” annexation as a “serious violation of international law and Ukrainian sovereignty.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has ruled out any peace talks with Russia after the annexation, announced he was accelerating his country’s bid to join NATO.
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